An unexpected highlight of the weekend’s NZ Festival of Motor Racing came when touring car champ Greg Murphy turned some laps in a Formula 5000 car – and raised eyebrows!
Murphy took to Hampton Downs at the wheel of the McRae GM1 campaigned by V8 Supercar Commission member Chris Lambden, and within a handful of laps put in a time which in qualifying would have sat the car on the third row.
The Formula 5000 grid, including lap record holder, young Brit Michael Lyons, lined pit wall to see how the touring car champ (whose early career included Formula Holden success, winning the NZ Grand Prix) would go and weren’t disappointed.
When he stopped, Murph was exuberant.
“Holy shit! That was truly awesome,” he grinned.
“I always reckoned they were real men back then (Formula 5000 ruled Australasian racetracks through the 70s), and now I know they were …”
“The power, the traction … it’s huge. It’s been a long time since I’ve driven an open-wheeler of any kind, and never something like that! Wow!”
Sharing the track, in David Abbott’s ex-Warwick Brown Lola T430, was former NZV8s champ, Andy Booth, whose father campaigned an F5000 Begging in the original era.
“I always wanted to drive one one day, just to see how it was for him,” Booth enthused.
“He’s my hero now!”
Murphy and Booth both drove the F5000s during private sessions at the fourth round of the 2011/12 MSC F5000 Tasman Cup Revival Series.
Pole-siter Michael Lyons (Lola T400) won today’s eight lap race from series points leader Steve Ross (McRae GM1) and visiting Canadian Jay Esterer (McRae GM1).